I have been in the technology world for more than 15 years and during this journey, I got the opportunity to work on many challenging products with many competent people. As a people person, I always enjoy working with people, understanding their passion, and building teams. And this experience taught me that every engineer, including myself, aspires to work on new tech and products, contribute beyond their designated work, look for constant change, and intend to learn continuously. But most of the time, it is difficult to make this happen which could eventually lead to the employees feeling underachieved.
Now, as one of the leads of our company I wanted to find a solution to this dilemma our employees might be facing.
So to start with, our team asked ourselves a few questions.
- How to provide the best learning opportunities to our employees?
- How to channel their experience gained by doing BORING tasks and make it INTERESTING?
- How to value a person's creative skills?
- How to enable freedom to express oneself by crossing the barrier of roles & designation?
- How to provide a platform for continuous learning and opportunities?
- Finally, how to make it a part of the company's core culture?
And we came up with our solution; Give and Take.
What is Give and Take? As I said, it started with a wish.
Every person wants to work on cutting-edge technologies which challenge them and thus they wish to switch products they work on. Well, isn’t it humane to feel the other side is greener?
This usually happens because people easily get bored working in the same tech. But the little-known fact is that the ‘boring’ tasks a Software Engineer does help them gain in-depth knowledge in the field. It is just a matter of time before one becomes a master in what he does. I am not different. Looking at the codes that I wrote a couple of years back, I feel it's s*** and my urge to hide it away is much more than a killer trying to bury a corpse.
This is a shared emotion. While we say the individual should take the responsibility to keep up with the latest technology, the organisation they work for should provide them with a platform for continuous learning and opportunities to explore themselves.
How often have people said they left off their passion or other skills because they do not get time for all that amidst their busy life?
Most of the time, in any organisation, employees will be confined to the job they are recruited for, leaving no time to live their creative side.
This is where we wished to be different. To identify our employees for their talents beyond their job and give them the opportunity to live their passion. We were astonished to see a flood of creative skills like photography, creative writing, public speaking, painting, graphic designing, documentation, singing, passion for directing movies, etc among our employees. These talents, if unnoticed, would have gone down the drain eventually leaving our employees frustrated at a certain level.
Now that our wish was defined and immense talents recognized, the next step was to make things happen. For this, we breathed life into our new initiative; Give and Take.
To implement our idea, we created a Trello board solely for the Give & Take program, and made it visible and accessible to all the employees. Any employee or team who needs help can create a task and assign a timeline for the same, in this space. Employees who are interested in taking up these tasks can do so and it will be allocated on a first come first serve basis. These tasks do not have a definite character. These can be anything and everything.
- Solve a technical problem
- Implement a POC
- Lend a helping hand to complete a task
- Design a Flyer
- Help in content writing
- Writing an article
- Taking a session
- Training freshers
- Painting office wall
Etc, are a few of the tasks we cover through ‘Give and Take’.
There are a wide variety of other tasks that our employees volunteer to do in groups or by themselves directly without updating it on the board. This again shows the success of the program as the idea to ‘give and take’ has become a normal routine among us.
With the program ideated and implemented, we still faced challenges. The biggest one was making everyone change their mindset, which was deep-rooted in ‘I CAN DO’ to ‘WE CAN DO’. Everyone believes they are obliged to do the tasks assigned to them all by themselves, however difficult it is, while things can be done better if they delegate and collaborate. After all, Teamwork creates dream work, right?
Another challenge was to break away from the constraints of designation each employee adorned. To make people understand that anyone can contribute to anything, having required skills in spite of their designation, was not an easy task. The traditional notion that defined a job or a team had to be rewritten to make everyone realize that everyone can take up responsibility or ownership regardless of their roles.
The sad reality is that the framework all of us are used to does not allow a person to deviate from the usual and try a new path without having to take a guilt ride for trying to live their passions.
Thus most people need a push or trigger to pick up tasks, despite possessing immense talents and skills or having the skills/quest to learn.
And with ‘Give and Take’ we are determined to do that
Once we realised the challenges we face, our team brainstormed ideas to overcome them.
We decided that bringing in a new idea was not just enough to make people come up and own something or ask for help. It is important that they are assured that they will not be judged or questioned for seeking help or deciding to step in. It was also very important to make them understand the benefits and opportunities that were awaiting them while they cross the boundaries and explore the limitless opportunities. And for this, we spoke to them, educating them about the scope and new horizons awaiting them.
While awareness goes a long way, it alone will not be enough to encourage everyone. Even though we all know the reward of a thing well done is having done it, we decided to bring in an actual reward system for anyone who takes up a task and completes it. Thus came the Bounties program. In this, a bounty will be attached to each task created, and the one who completes it will own the bounty. The bounties add up as they complete more tasks and they will be rewarded when they reach a decided milestone.
We are happy to say our efforts and ideas didn’t go in vain.
The pay-off was huge, nothing short of fantastic. Many of our employees identify their talents better and participate in ‘Give and Take’ with all the eagerness we wished for. They grab the opportunities that come their way regardless of their designations and teams. I can even list down a few of the key outcomes;
- Polyglots are no longer a rare scene in our office.
- Deadlines, amidst unexpected situations or emergencies, don't scare us anymore.
- Combined efforts assure the best solutions for even the most complicated problems.
- Dull office walls are a thing of the past for us. We have our own artists on the go
- We never feel the need for a designated digital marketer to maintain our social media at its best
- Open Source contributions would have remained a dream
- Internal products and by-products would have never seen the limelight.
- We, together, welcome our freshers with the best training sessions.
- Confluence is literally overflowing with umpteen articles from each one of our engineers without whom even the blog platform would be empty.
In short, Give and take is not just a program in our company, but an integral part of our core CULTURE, which allows one to be vulnerable and ‘take’ help from others and to ‘give’ others a helping hand when in need. We make sure we have each other’s back.
Now that you know about our ‘Give and Take’ a question might arise in you; ‘Why should I give?’.
And we choose Adam Grant’s quote to answer that.
“The more I help out, the more successful I become. But I measure success in what it has done for the people around me. That is the real accolade.”
Happy Giving and Taking !!